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Third Australian Conference
Saturday, 15 July 2006

Conference Report

Ian Kelly
University of South Australia

The third conference held by the Australian Chapter of the IIPT extended the examination of tourism as a contributor to a more peaceful world. It involved a number of speakers from industry and academia, and an interactive panel session.

The Conference was addressed by His Excellency Hernani Coelho Da Silva, Ambassador to Australia for the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste. He spoke of the difficulties being experienced in the establishment of parliamentary democracy, the pillars of the economy (agriculture, natural gas and tourism) and the need to diversify. Potential for a greater tourism role is present, with a largely unspoiled natural environment, varied landscapes, a range of historical and heritage sites, and a culture which reflects the mixed origins of the people. With the objective of attracting 0.6 percent of Asian Pacific tourism, the focus will be on infrastructure and human resource development.

IIPT Founding President, Lou D’Amore reviewed the history of the IIPT since its origin in 1986, identifying three historical phases of its operations – the creation of awareness of tourism’s peace potential, encouragement and distribution of success stories, and the development of partnerships and coalitions with shared objectives. He also outlined six dimensions of Peace through Tourism as peace with oneself, others, nature, past generations, future generations, and one’s personal Creator. The current geographical focus is on Africa and the role of tourism in poverty reduction, but there is continuing concern with the traveler, through promotion of the IIPT Credo, the World Peace Passport and World Peace Travel.

Mike Hatton, CEO of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), spoke on the changes which have led to the growth of tourism, the problems facing the industry today, his personal experiences of travel as a contributor to understanding and the responsibility of the travel agent for traveler safety. The travel agent’s responsibility was also addressed by Georgina Pickers, who drew attention to the changes in traveler expectations since the 1970s and emphasized the need for the traveler to be informed. Jacqueline Preketes (Touchdown Tours) referred to agency difficulties relating to moral, confrontational, political and workload issues, and recommended the adoption of a business ethic in which peace and environmental protection are recognized.

Dr. David Beirman, industry consultant and academic, examined the role of multinational tourism associations in promoting peace tourism. He noted the circumstances in which destinations cooperate, explained the barriers to be overcome, and provided a number of illustrative case studies. 

Travelers were the focus of presentations by Mia Nahm (Kenvale College of Tourism and Hospitality Management) and Richard Cunningham (World Expeditions). Mia described the experience of student volunteers working with disadvantaged communities in developing and developed countries. Richard provided details on Community Project Travel involving small groups in construction and other projects of benefit to the local communities.

Volunteers and the local community were also addressed by Dr. Deborah Edwards (University of Technology, Sydney) who reviewed the characteristics of community volunteers and the contribution to tourism through guiding, research, conservation, training, management and fund-raising. She noted the value to the peace objectives of enhanced community relationships and cohesiveness.

The interactive panel session was chaired by Dr. Linda-Ann Blanchard (Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney), and comprised Trevor Lake (travel operator), Matt McDonnell (local government marketing and tourism manager), Garth Lean (PhD candidate) and Ian Kelly (tourism educator). Trevor summarized his experiences in tour operation and the peace-related lessons learned. Matt examined processes by which peace through tourism could be marketed. Garth introduced the concept of ‘transformational travel’, experiences which bring about a change in attitudes and behaviour. Ian argued for a greater recognition of hosting and the welfare of destination communities as a defining element of tourism. Questions from University of Sydney Peace through Tourism students and from the floor related to these and other topics and stimulated much discussion.

In his review of the Conference, Professor Larry Dwyer (University of New South Wales) addressed the question: Where to from here? He noted the robustness of the presentations and the need for further research in a number of areas such as tourism-migration links, the impacts of ‘enclave’ tourism, the difficulties associated with TBL (triple bottom line) reporting, the opportunity costs associated with tourism development, the changing values of consumers, tourist safety, poverty relief, the role of tour guides, and the economic and social impacts of volunteer involvement. He also identified problems relating to the ‘size’ of the peace issue, the neglect of tourism’s contribution to environmental pollution, limits to acceptance of religious differences, and heritage protection.

Edited versions of some Conference presentations will be made available on the IIPT website (www.iipt.org) shortly.

Ian Kelly, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

E-mail: iankelly@picknowl.com.au

For More Information, Contact:
Daphne Lowe Kelley, President, IIPT (Australia) Inc
GPO Box 670, Sydney NSW 2001 Australia
Phone/Fax (61 2) 9719-3080  Email lowekelley@bigpond.com

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International Institute for Peace Through Tourism